(WEEI) -- On Tuesday night, it was learned Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has been accused of sexual assault and rape in a Florida lawsuit.
Brown is denying the allegations, claiming everything was consensual, and plans on fighting back.
The 31-year-old was released by the Raiders last Saturday and agreed to terms with the Patriots that afternoon, with the signing becoming official on Monday. With Brown getting $10 million guaranteed from the Patriots, it's worth wondering if the organization knew about the allegations before signing him.
The answer appears to be no.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Patriots were "caught by surprise" of the news coming out Tuesday and they will now have to decide how to proceed.
Schefter adds one possibility is Brown being placed on the commissioner's exempt list while the league investigates.
“We are aware of the civil lawsuit that was filed earlier today against Antonio Brown, as well as the response by Antonio’s representatives," the Patriots said in a statement late Tuesday. "We take these allegations very seriously. Under no circumstance does this organization condone sexual violence or assault. The league has informed us that they will be investigating. We will have no further comment while that investigation takes place.”
Being caught by surprise is notable since there were rumors circulating of the lawsuit over the weekend via Twitter. On Saturday morning, a Twitter user, @incarceratedbob, leaked screenshots of Instagram messages between Brown and someone who had knowledge of the upcoming allegations.
While a number of rumors start on Twitter, many of which are not true, when an organization is committing $10 million to someone, these are things it probably should have been aware of and perhaps done some investigating of their own.